MLS Shutting Down Its Streaming Service; ESPN To Take Over
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MLS Live, for years the primary way to stream the majority of Major League Soccer matches, is shutting down. In its place, ESPN+ will take over live MLS streaming when Walt Disney Co. launches its new online service this year, according to reports.
The shift from MLS Live to ESPN+ is kind of a big deal. For years, MLS Live has been just about the only way to (legally) watch out-of-market matches online. By moving MLS streaming to ESPN+, the top soccer league in the U.S. will be selling its rights to around 250 out-of-market matches per year.
ESPN+ is a streaming service that will launch later this year to provide streaming of all sorts of live sporting events that aren’t on ESPN’s broadcast channels. The service will cost $5 per month, or $60 annually. MLS Live used to cost $79 per year, meaning the new service is a huge cost savings for consumers before you even consider all the thousands of other events available on the service aside from MLS streaming.
It’s unclear if ESPN+ will mean the end of WatchESPN showing non-televised events for free to anyone with a cable subscription that includes ESPN. But $5 per month is a competitive price with that many MLS streaming matches available. Plus, because the MLS season will likely start before ESPN+ launches, the matches will be available for free on MLSsoccer.com until the streaming service goes live.
An MLS spokesperson declined comment and the financial arrangements for the deal are still unknown, the reports stated.
ESPN+ is a part of Disney’s push into online content. The company will also be launching a Disney-branded streaming service that will include Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and recently obtained 21st Century Fox films.